March 2019 – Herring

The herring or ‘Silver Darling’ was once a staple of the British diet, being abundant in our cool coastal waters and teeming with healthy properties due to its superior Omega content. It has however recently and sadly fallen from grace and is now not found fresh in most fish mongers or on the icy fish counters of our supermarkets. This is despite them being more environmentally friendly on account of living close to the surface and so not needing to be trawled. You will more often find it kippered, a process invented in 1840 by John Woodger of Northumberland, who took the glistening fish, gutted, flattened and lightly smoked it. The herring then just needed a little grilling and made a delightfully buttery, smoky breakfast dish, which I for one relish on occasion, especially if it has come from one of our very fine Scottish smokehouses. It can also be found deliciously pickled in glass jars called matjes herring or rollmops and enjoyed as a snack with boiled potatoes, sour cream, pickles or in salads and is an exceptionally tasty morsel. But to me, the best way to enjoy a herring is to coat a fresh fillet in beaten egg, roll in oatmeal, then fry in bubbling butter. Eat immediately with a peppery watercress salad and freshly made tartar sauce.

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